Sharing the Burden


Andi just wrote about Telephone Do-Overs, and my comment has aparently turned itself into a post.  I realized it wasn't so much of a do-over as it was a deeper feeling that arose for me during the deployment.  It wasn't about money or child-rearing or anything that most people fight about.  It was about the value of my life.

Towards the end of my husband's deployment, I started a fight.  My friend's brother was killed in a car accident, and I was trying to get her home from Germany on emergency leave.  On the same day, there was a huge snowstorm in Germany and we weren't sure we could make it to the airport safely.  We had to weigh our options of risking trying to drive to Munich in the middle of the night vs. not being able to get her home to be with family. 

I told my husband about the situation on IM as we were preparing to head out onto the autobahn in the worst weather I'd seen in years, and in my opinion he was too nonchalant about it.  I started to get irrationally irritated that I too was facing a sort of life-and-death situation, and my husband didn't seem to be worried.  Here I'd been worrying about his life-and-death for 12 months, and I just wanted him to show that he was worried about me, that it was possible that something could befall me while all eyes and prayers had been focused on him.

Over the following days, we worked it out via IMs and emails, but it was a rough fight for me.  For whatever reason, I desperately needed him to shoulder some of the life-and-death burden that I had felt every day for a year.  For 365 days I had carried around the baggage that he might not make it home to me, and I felt slighted that he didn't give it a second thought that something could happen to me instead.  I wanted him to feel one day's worth of the anguish and desperation that we on the homefront live with all the time.

Yes, I know that our spouses' biggest concern should be the mission and that we shouldn't do anything to add stress to their day.  And I lived that way for 12 months.  But that didn't stop me from getting royally ticked when I felt like my concerns of driving in highly dangerous weather were not valid.  Just 'cause there weren't any IEDs on the way to Munich didn't mean that everything was guaranteed to be peachy!

When my husband returned, I wanted to revisit this frustration.  We talked about it at length and, once we were face to face, we were able to get to the real heart of the argument.  But talking -- really talking -- about fears and frustrations is not something that's easy to do over IM or email or crappy static-filled phone conversations.  Some of these big talks and problems can be smoothed over and apologies can be made and accepted, but I think some of them need to be revisited when there's time to talk about them at length.

I know that this discussion will have an effect on our next deployment.  Not that my husband should sit around and worry about me while he's downrange, but that he will understand more what we on the homefront go through.  He has promised to take it to heart and to put out more of an effort to constantly remind me how special and irreplaceable I am to him.  And I know -- and knew back then -- that he thinks I'm special; I just needed to hear it when I was feeling scared and vulnerable.

We often wish for a do-over when some of these fights happen, but sometimes the small fight can lead to better understanding.  Maybe not everything should get a do-over, because then we wouldn't learn the lessons we need to cushion us from the next bump in the road.

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